Washington and Oregon join a group of 47 states and Washington, D.C. that experienced growth in construction employment since February 2015. Employment in the sector picked up in Washington in February while Oregon experienced strong growth in the sector for two straight months to start the year. Washington and Oregon are also two of 27 states to experience construction job growth between January and February.
Overall non-farm employment in each state also looks promising and unemployment is on the decline.
It is a different story in Alaska, where the unemployment rate remains higher than it was a year ago and construction employment declined in February. Alaska is one of only seven states to experience negative growth in construction employment over the past year.
“The states with the steepest declines in construction jobs during the past 12 months have been hurt by the pullback in oil and gas drilling, coal mining and farm income,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America in a press release. “A wide variety of influences boosted construction employment in other states, including weather that was more favorable this February than a year ago.”
Washington followed up a tepid January with a strong February, adding 4,700 construction jobs in the month, according to non-seasonally adjusted figures in Washington’s Monthly Employment Report. That rise comes after the state lost 2,100 jobs in construction in January, according to non-seasonally adjusted numbers. However, the state gained 400 construction jobs in January when accounting for normal seasonal patterns.
The seasonally-adjusted month over month change in construction employment in February was 5,500 jobs. Washington’s month-over-month construction employment increase of 3.1% ranks first nationally. Of those 5,500 jobs, 3,600 came from specialty trade contractors.
On a year-over-year basis, Washington gained 11,800 construction jobs in February. That far outpaces the 7,800 construction jobs the state gained year over year in January. In total, seasonally-adjusted construction employment in Washington sat at 183,000 jobs in February, a 6.8% increase over a year ago. That figure ranks 10th nationally.
Washington added 92,600 total non-farm jobs in February compared to the same month last year, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers. Compared to January, the state’s non-farm employment rose by 12,800 jobs. The state’s unemployment rate remained stagnant at 5.8% in January and February, which is 0.1% below the unemployment rate in February 2015.
With a second straight month of positive job growth, construction continues to be a bright spot in Oregon, according to a press release from the State of Oregon Employment Department. Total construction employment in the state sat at 82,300 jobs in February, an increase of 5.1% over a year ago. That growth rate ranks 20th nationally.
The state added 1,900 construction jobs month over month in both January and February. The 1,900 construction jobs added in February equated to a 2.2% month over month gain, which ranks 5th nationally.
Overall, non-farm employment in Oregon rose by 10,200 between January and February, bolstered by construction and other high performing industries such as professional and business services, and health care and social assistance. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Oregon declined from 5.1% in January to 4.8% in February and now sits lower than the national unemployment rate of 4.9%.
Alaska’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate remained remained steady at 6.6% between January and February of this year, according to the State of Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That figure is slightly higher than the 6.4% unemployment rate in the state had in February 2015.
Declining employment in the oil and construction sectors in Alaska’s Northern and Gulf Coast regions drove some of the decline in employment in the state. Alaska’s seasonally-adjusted construction employment total of 16,900 jobs in February was a -8.2% decline from a year ago. According to seasonally adjusted employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America, Alaska trailed only North Dakota in the highest percent and total number of lost construction jobs with a 1,500 job decline which translates to 8.2 percent.
Alaska added 200 construction jobs month over month in February, good for a growth rate of 1.2%. That rate ranks 12th nationally.